Parting


I met Rohit two years ago after I started my Masters. Today, he leaves New Zealand as I wait for my visa to come through. Through the past week, I have been thinking about how today might play out. What will we say to each other? Will I feel guilty about things working out for me ( visa abiding ) and not working out for him?

I have been plagued with another question too. Will I even feel anything? After all, Rohit and I were never really close. We never spoke about our hobbies or our families. We didn’t talk nor did we ever bond in our struggles. We just hung out, cooking burgers and drinking beers. I would spend most of my university days in his house. Then in the last year, some of our mutual friends moved in with him and I would visit them on the weekends. We would play Call of Duty on his PlayStation, we would cook pasta or Thai or just get fish and chips because we lost track of time. It was always easy.

He, his roommates and I spent the day doing the things we have always done. We hung out. Played Call of Duty, made stupid jokes. Went to a park for dinner where we barbequed burgers.

After I hugged him goodbye and waited for my bus, I stood there thinking how normal the day was. If it was not his last day in the country, it might have been any other Sunday.

It was so easy to just walk into his place, just drop by on the weekend without an iota of plan. And now, there will not be another weekend for a while like that.

I wondered if this how adult friendships feel like.

 

A year in AUT


A year ago, I was in Mumbai working 9 hours a day and secretly trying to get my visa sanctioned. I had kept my Masters’ plans secret from my colleagues. I would frequently call my brother whenever I needed some advice about my visa or about my job.

No one really tells you how hard it is to live away from your family. It is harder still to live without home-cooked food. It is hardest when there is no dog happily running around when I return home. I have weird priorities.

My friends from India do not share the same time with me. They are lagging behind 8 hours. If I need advice from my friends, I would get a reply from them 4 hours after my message. One of my friends moved to Germany now which lags behind 12 hours so basically I would wake up when she sleeps. I slowly stopped asking for advice and used my instincts. If I am confused, I toss a coin to decide.

I cannot summarize the last 9 university months in one sentence. In fact, I have been writing this post for the last 2 weeks and every draft I wrote was unsatisfactory. My drafts were mechanical, emotionless and not me. I had to sit and shovel the feelings out of my chest so my feelings can guide the words flow into this post. I should thank one of my university staff for that shovel.

I am competing for an award in my university. The final step to submit my award application is a personal essay to the university staff member. I have to write an essay about my feelings. It ought to be easy considering I have a personal blog right?

When I started in university, I was fresh off a content writing position in India. I was trying to transition back to engineering again. I saw my university’s monthly magazine and I said to my friend “I will submit an article in here”. I never submitted any article and forgot about it. In October I read the year’s final magazine again. I regretted never submitting any article.

I was also happy that I did not submit any article, I was no longer a content writer. My writings were academic focused and maybe no longer suited for magazines. My transition was complete.

Regarding my award application, all my essay drafts were sent back for revisions. She said my essays did not have feelings, they were similar to academic writings. She made me stop and think, think carefully about what my university months meant to me. Without her push, this post would have stayed in my drafts.

I did a lot of things in my university. I don’t want to list them, I want to relive them as I write the words here. I don’t know when I will resume my university for Ph.D. yet. At the moment, the nine months of university is what I have for certain.

I lived in two different houses while I studied. I loved both of the houses for different reasons. One house was near to sea face and my current house allows me to bike to my university. I made some great friends in my previous house, one of them recently sent me a postcard. The simple 3 lines on the postcard gave me immense happiness. I have to send her a postcard back soon.

I can’t talk about the AUT Debating Society enough. They took me along with them to my first roadtrip to Hamilton. I enjoyed the debating weekend getaway, the location and it took some time but I loved the people I met. On regular university days, every Tuesday I would be debating with them, making arguments and high-fiving my teammates. The funniest thing I have ever heard my teammate say during a debate was ‘Spiritual Porn’. The argument used will always be funny.

Recently, I volunteered for a medical technology event. It was not my first volunteering and it will not be my last. During the volunteering, I felt a surge of pride when people appreciated the exhibits. I should have clicked photos of kids reacting to the exhibits. The kids had a curiosity which made them keep exploring. The event was exhilarating and it gave me an excuse to cycle along the waterfront. I was as excited about these things as a 8 year old would be.

I got lost on so many days here. If I don’t have my phone then without maps I would also be geographically lost. I kept looking for a replacement home. I understand my immense involvement in a church now. They are a bunch of great people but with time I realized that I don’t really belong with them. I was trying too hard. Luckily, I found a good replacement home. A entire community of people who want to do good, and they accepted me into their homes with open arms. They called me ‘fam’, family for short. I can’t wait for their wedding in December.

It is not easy to live in a new country. It is easier to stay with other Indians because it is familiar and comfortable. I never fit in with them either. So I never waited for anyone. I wanted to watch a movie, I watched it. I wanted to eat a pizza, I ate it. I wanted to go to a party, I went. I never waited for anyone, I couldn’t possibly call my best friends from India here.

The year in Auckland, 9 months with AUT was a promiscuous mixture. Some days I went outside the house with ambition, some days I just closed my eyes and slept again. The 9 months are no less symbolic than childbirth for me. I feel independent, optimistic and ready for whatever comes my way and I have come a long way from where I started.

Transit Friends


That is what I call them.

When I moved to Auckland, I had a plan. Live temporarily in this place while I look for a good apartment near my university. Call it my incompetence to get a good apartment near to my university, or the fact that I loved my area so much that I never moved.

I was supposed to get a good place, but I didn’t want to leave a better place either.

The people I met here are a special highlight. Not all of them are great, many like me are introverted. When the conversations start though, they were a unique experience.

They are all travellers. None of them are talking about the money they have, or the wild experiences they had. It’s simple, none are trying to impress anyone.

When I moved in, there were a couple of people living here already. These travellers are way past their studying years and now are making a living on the go. They travel, earn money and then travel some more. The cycle is repeated till I don’t know when, I never asked. They had fascinating tales, even better passports which could very well be out of a travelogue or self help book.

In my first week I met 4 Brits who were staying over for a weekend. Real cool guys, and as luck would have it we shared a room. There was another guy in the same room and he snored. I was jetlagged and couldn’t sleep. The 4 Brits couldn’t sleep because of the snores. We all stayed awake that night talking to one another about how to shut the snoring up, what other ways a corn can be used and my personal favourite was a tale of a lodge they slept one  night and swore never to return to such a place again. I can’t remember laughing like that in a long time.

As it was my first week here, I missed my home food and had bought Indian (expensive) food in desperation. I had no hesitation to share the food.

I met a Japanese girl here. Unlike the other travellers that I keep encountering she had no clue what she was doing, what she wanted to eat and what she wanted to buy. She hung around with me for a couple of days. I am sure she would be cursing me for making her walk from one place to the other simply because I didn’t want to use the more expensive bus. She was fun in her different way. Of all the people that I met here, she is the only one who I befriended on Facebook. And now I don’t text her either.

A very generous bunch of travellers gave me their guitar. We spoke the night they arrived, tired and cranky. Crazy dudes, a quiet girlfriend of one of the guys. Possibly the friendliest bunch ever, I would love to travel with such a group. I closed up all my work as I listened to them talking about Bali, India, Australia. Where to get cheap flights from, where to party hardest and where they found peace: they knew it all. For a first time traveller like me, I can only stare in fascination at their passports with multiple immigration stamps and visas. I was spellbound. The couple were engaged but he wanted his fiancée to travel the world like he did, on her own. He said ‘I want her to experience the things I did. I don’t want her to regret it.’ He didn’t have to tell me that but he did.

They moved to the city a day later, I lost their numbers. I also knew I would never contact them. I am weird that way.

There was a couple from Poland I remember. The guy had an awesome collection of folk music that I forgot to take. They told me where to buy good white wraps from which I substitute as rotis. They told me they were interrogated at the airport when they arrived at Auckland only because they were from Poland. The girl never spoke a word.

In the last month’s Lantern festival, I went alone on the first day and on the last day I oversold the festival and took two Germans and the Japanese girl along. I just didn’t want to go alone I guess. Like everyone else the Germans were travellers too. I kept asking questions about the places they have been to, things they have done.

Not every person is great though. Sometimes I wanted to run out of the room because a roommate looked scary. I maintained my cool. A chinese family snored like tractors in the night and I slept on the couch. I didn’t complain to them when they asked me why did I sleep on the couch. The couch is also very comfortable for me.

A Czech republic girl played the most soothing version of Tears of Heaven in the night. I slept like a baby listening to that tune. A guy never stopped drinking beer.

Days turned to weeks and now it has been a month. I can’t count the number of people I have met. I don’t want to because I would have a number of people that have left the house since I moved in.

I read about this on his blog ‘Into The Mild’ but until now I never realized what he really meant. The worst part about meeting so many people is that they leave. I know the probability of ever meeting them again is extremely slim. Unless I stay at the same place and hope that the Belgian guys decide to come here again or the Japanese girl wants to travel Auckland again.

A house like this is perfect for me: I will not be depended upon anyone. I wanted that, needed it. I don’t want to be at the mercy of other people’s kindness ever again.

But that doesn’t mean that I don’t wish some of these great, funny people I met would live at the home for a little longer. For I can get out of my natural inhibitions and ask for their numbers and contact. And maybe speak to them again.

For now, I can see almost everyone I knew leaving the house this weekend. I can only sit and bid farewell because like them, I am too their in-transit friend.